If you’re setting fitness goals, choosing healthy habits to focus on, or making wellness resolutions for the new year, exercise is on your mind. But something else you might be thinking about is all of your expenses and making new savings goals.
Paying to work out makes sense for people who can afford it and enjoy exercising or taking classes at a gym. But if you think joining a gym is too expensive or you won’t get your money’s worth out of a membership, you might be looking for free or frugal ways to exercise.
Walking, jogging, hiking, and running are aerobic exercises that won’t cost you much. Yet, you know that doing a variety of exercises will improve your health and keep you motivated. Strength training, flexibility exercises, and fun need to be part of your normal routine too!
To help you on your path to frugal fitness, we’re sharing exercise ideas from A to Z. If you have any other ways you exercise for free or inexpensively let us know in the comments and we’ll add them to our list!
A to Z Frugal Exercise Options
A – If you’re a renter, is there an apartment gym at your complex? You can also download fitness apps for a few dollars like Couch to 5K or the free Daily Workouts Fitness Trainer for proven 5 to 30 minute targeted exercise routines.
B – If you have a bike (or can borrow one), get out and ride! You can also do some burpees or other bodyweight exercises. Grab a basketball and head to a local park to shoot some hoops.
C – Spending a few hours cleaning your house or climbing stairs during your lunch break at work won’t cost you anything. Instead of scrolling by all the fitness challenges you see on Facebook or Pinterest, pick one and commit to it. Do some calf raises as you check your email and check-in at church to see if what activities they offer that can get you up and moving.
D – Many local libraries have the latest fitness DVDs that you can try. Don’t spend money to buy one until you’re sure that you’ll really enjoy it! If you’d much rather dance than run, put on your favorite playlist and have some fun.
E – Have you looked at your employee benefits to see if you can get a free or reduced-price gym membership? You might be surprised by some of the benefits you have and aren’t using!
Are there clothes hanging on an exercise bike in your room? Clean it off and commit to riding while you listen to a podcast or watch videos.
F – You may have to spend a few dollars to buy some fitness bands. But you’ll save on all kinds of fitness equipment people don’t use anymore if you check out sites like Facebook Marketplace. Your local community center might offer free or low-cost fitness classes too.
G – Prepping the soil, planting, and taking care of a home garden is a lot more of a workout than you might think. You can DIY a simple gym at home for less than it costs for a monthly membership to some fitness centers.
While it isn’t free, Groupon also has some great deals on activities designed to keep you active and fit.
H – If you buy some hand weights, you can use them at different times during the day. Does your health insurance offer a fitness tracker or a reimbursement for logging in workouts and healthy choices?
If you’re physically ready for it, integrate some high-intensity interval training (HIIT) into a few of your frugal workouts each week.
I – If you haven’t been ice skating for a while (or always wanted to learn), it’s a frugal option for a few hours of activity – even if you have to rent skates. You’ll find thousands of free fitness workouts available on the internet. Just don’t spend more time searching than you do working out!
J – You can get a good cardio workout in by doing some things you did as a kid. Do some sets of jumping jacks or spend time jumping rope and see how it impacts your heart rate!
K – Speaking of kids… Just keeping up with and playing with your kids (or grandkids) is a workout! Play a game of tag in the yard, build snowmen, climb on the equipment at the playground. The next day your body will let you know what muscles you haven’t worked in awhile!
L – Take a brisk walk through a local park. In addition to checking out wellness books or DVD’s, see if your community library offers free fitness classes too. You can also do some lunges to work your quads and glutes.
M – Have you checked to see if there are fitness Meetup groups in your area? You might even make some new friends in the process.
If doing a marathon is on your bucket list, this might be the year to commit to training for one. And there’s always mowing the lawn or doing some mountain climber exercises to boost your fitness too.
N – Skip the nap and get out into nature. Whether it’s hiking through national parks, kayaking in a local lake, or swimming in your backyard pool – the more time you spend outside, the more you’ll be moving.
O – If you live near the beach, take an ocean swim. But you can also increase your strength by adding in some overhead arm exercises.
P – Planks, push-ups, and local parks with workout stops are also great (and free!) exercise options. If you want to give Pilates a try, ask your friends if they have a DVD, check one out from the library, or stream some online sessions for free.
Q – Have you ever seen football players running in place at a really fast pace? That’s called “quick feet” and this exercise won’t cost you anything. You can also give the quadraplex exercise a try to build your core.
R – You don’t have to run a marathon but you might want to sign up for a 5K road race this year. If you’re really adventurous (along with taking safety precautions!) – rock climbing might be a good workout for you.
S – If you like team sports, join a local softball or soccer league. If you love swimming, you might be able to work out with a Master’s team near you.
You can get great exercise by putting on some snowshoes or by shoveling out your driveway. If you work from home, try a standing desk and make a few extra trips up and down the stairs to get some extra steps in.
T – Dust off the tennis rackets or borrow some from a friend and head over to a local court. Your nearest high school might have an outdoor track that’s open for people to use too.
If you own a treadmill, put time on your calendar so you start using it on a regular basis. Want to buy a treadmill? You might consider a gently-used one before buying new.
U – You don’t have to be in a fight to get in some good upper-cuts. Build up your upper body (and get out some frustration) with this “air-punching” move from boxing and kickboxing.
V – If you have a community center gym, see if you can volunteer and work out for free. There are plenty of interactive video games you can play and an endless number of exercise videos to help you get fit.
W – You don’t have to walk by yourself, walking the dog is a fun activity for both of you. Is your employer big enough that there is a work gym available to you?
If you take a job at a gym, you can usually work out for free. Many warehouse club members can get big discounts for fitness centers too.
X – While it wasn’t easy to find, there is an exercise for this letter too. It’s called the x-crunch!
Y – There are thousands of fitness videos you can exercise with on Youtube – including yoga. If you have a YMCA in your community, they generally have reasonable membership fees and you’ll be supporting a good cause as well.
Z – There are some great “z” activities and exercises too. If you already pay for Amazon Prime, you can stream a number of Zumba workouts. Striking a zen (yoga) pose can help your body and your mind.
And if you want to add some excitement to your next jog, check out the 5-star rated free app with over 12K reviews – Zombies, Run!
Fitness is Personal Too
That’s quite a list of free and frugal workout ideas! While you might have a few key favorites, take time to try different activities. Something you didn’t enjoy years ago might be an exercise that fits your lifestyle now.
We emphasize that personal finance is personal all the time. But finding a fitness routine you enjoy that motivates you is personal too.
You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars a year (or more) to get fit unless that’s what works for you. Choose free and frugal options meeting your needs and stay focused on a healthier you.
Post by Vicki, from Women Who Money. Vicki is an educator, real estate investor, and entrepreneur. She shares Amy’s passion for health and fitness, and when she’s not exercising or blogging, you’ll find her reading, learning from an online course, or plotting her next travel adventure.